Marvin Lewis and the Bengals coaching staff, minus offensive coordinator Jay Gruden, were able to get a first hand look at several quarterbacks during last month's Senior Bowl. Colin Kaepernick (Nevada), Jake Locker (Washington) and Ricky Stanzi (Iowa) all played for the North squad, with Kaepernick completing four of nine passes for 53 yards passing and an interception. Jake Locker completed six of 10 passes for 98 yards while Ricky Stanzi posted 87 yards passing after completing seven of 12 passes. The South's Christian Ponder, not coached by the Bengals, completed seven of 13 passes for 132 yards passing and two touchdowns.
Kaepernick came away from the NFL Combine with the highest velocity, registering 59 miles-per-hour on the gun. Fox Sports' Adam Caplan, who wrote that Mallett was "easily the most impressive passer Sunday", wrote of Kaepernick:
Kaepernick’s passes were so effortless. He threw the nicest ball out of any of the quarterbacks here. He needs to work on his touch on some of the shorter passes and his delivery is slightly long, but I’m being as critical as I can with him.
Mallett came in second, registering 58 miles per hour on the gun.
NFL Network's draft analyst Mike Mayock said that compared to Andy Dalton, Christian Ponder and Ricky Stanzi, Kaepernick has the most upside.
"He's got a very long motion," Mayock said. "He's got some technical flaws that have to be worked on, and he's a little inconsistent and wild. But if you can work with him, he's got the most upside of those kids.
"You'll laugh when you see him. He can throw the football through a wall. But there is so much work that has to be done with this young man. The tradeoff is how early do we take him versus when can we get him on the field?"
In an article that promotes Christian Ponder as the most ready quarterback that could fit Jay Gruden's offense realistically available to the Bengals, Joe Reedy writes that "Kaepernick was wild on deep routes." Geoff Hobson called Ryan Mallett as the only "guy who looked anything close to a franchise quarterback during the drills", mentioning Kaepernick's velocity in passing.
Mocking the Draft ranks Kaepernick as the seventh ranked quarterback prospect with an "early to mid" third round projection.
Having played in the Pistol offense in Nevada, Kaepernick would take time to adjust to a Pro-style offense in the NFL, which will take time for him to adapt. And considering that the owners will lockout the players, coaches won't have time to work on the rookie quarterback if the Bengals draft him.
While a project quarterback is ideal for most teams, at least for a reasonable backup solution, the Bengals don't have that luxury. The team needs to anticipate as if Carson Palmer won't be with the team in 2010, needing a quarterback that's ready to step onto the field when the regular season kicks off.